You've probably heard the word antioxidant used frequently these days, especially when it comes to our skin and overall health. We all know that they're a good thing, but most of us may not understand what antioxidants are, what they're responsible for, and the benefits of applying antioxidant-infused products on the skin.
Today we're unpacking these invisible skincare super-heroes and exploring why you should think about incorporating antioxidants into your daily routine, what you can expect from using them, and which antioxidants are the most effective for skin health. Let's dive in!
What Are Antioxidants?
First and foremost: Antioxidants are molecules that exist in our bodies (endogenous antioxidants) and outside the body in nature (exogenous antioxidants), most commonly found in plant-based food like vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts, seeds, cocoa (hello, dark chocolate!) and some herbs and spices.
Antioxidants work to protect us against molecules known as free radicals produced by our cells as our bodies process food or react to our environment. They're the waste substances our cells secrete when we're exposed to things like pollution, smoke, sugar, toxic chemicals, radiation (think UV rays from the sun) or when our bodies break down food.
When our bodies don't process and get rid of these free radicals as productively as they should, we undergo something called oxidative stress—an imbalance between the production of free radicals and our ability to counteract their harmful effects with antioxidants. Over time, these harmful effects can result in diabetes, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, premature ageing and hardening of blood vessels.
It's easy to see, then, that although they're invisible, antioxidants are potent allies in our overall health—and that means our skin health, as well.
The Benefits of Antioxidants on Skin
Because they play such an essential role in our overall health, it's no wonder that antioxidants are a vital component in healthy skin, as well. A diet rich in antioxidants, coupled with skincare that's rich in antioxidants, can benefit skin from the inside out. Our favourite benefits of antioxidants on the skin are:
Decreased Inflammation. Because inflammation is often at the root of skin issues, keeping it at bay can lead to happier, healthier-looking skin. From acne to eczema to psoriasis, inflammation can lead to uncomfortable skin conditions, but antioxidants can help combat the body's inflammatory response. When skin is exposed to UV, antioxidants will neutralize the damaging (and inflammatory) free radicals—a pivotal element to fighting hyperpigmentation and melasma, leading to improved skin tone and appearance in texture and clarity.
Fight Free Radicals. As we've mentioned already, antioxidants are one of the most potent protection skin has in fighting free radicals. In its infinite wisdom, the human body can produce free radicals to help fight viruses and harmful bacteria—but when those free radicals aren't purged efficiently, they take a toll on the health of our bodies and our skin. In addition, environmental stressors promote the overabundance of free radicals, which can lead to fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone or a dull complexion. But antioxidants rush to defend our healthy cells against these free radicals, leaving skin (and the rest of our bodies) healthier as a result. By ingesting antioxidants from plant-based foods and using them in our skincare, we can promote calmer, more transparent and more radiant skin.
UV Damage Control. Talk about an environmental stressor! We know the sun's UV rays can damage skin—sunburn, hyperpigmentation, increased fine lines and wrinkles—but UV damage takes shape in the form of oxidative stress underneath the surface. Antioxidants can help combat skin's inflammatory response to UV exposure and help repair itself against UV damage, as well as aid in helping reduce the risk of skin cancers and melanoma—both products of UV damage. But, of course, no matter how healthy our diets or how chock full of antioxidants our skincare, wearing an SPF and exercising UV protection every day is non-negotiable for our health—inside and out!
Antioxidants in Skincare: What to Look For
With so many skincare products on the market, it's essential to know which antioxidants to look for in your ingredients. Caryl Baker Visage has formulated the H2O Restore Collection packed with nourishing Organic Plant Oil Extracts, a potent antioxidant blend of vitamin E, beta carotene, grapeseed avocado, olive and argan oils that provides natural protection and helps promote collagen production. Together, these antioxidants work to protect one another from oxidation.
Antioxidants may be invisible, but their benefits can be seen all over our skin! By making these molecules a part of your daily routine—inside and out—you'll be promoting overall good health and happier-looking skin.